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sealed by the holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of the inberitance : But these things I have not time to insist upon. So much for the second thing.
The third thing that I proposed here, was to speak a little to the manner of the acting or operation of these influences, or how is it that this wind blows upon the soul.
I answer, 1. then, the wind of the Holy Ghost blows very freely; the Spirit acts as an independent sovereign, John iii. 8. Ii doth not stay for the command, nor stop for the prohibition of any creature; so the breathings of the Spirit are sovereignly free as to the time of their donation, free as to their duration and continuance, free as to the measure, and free as to the manner of their working. And then, 2. he breathes on the soul sometimes very surprizingly. Ere ever I was aware, says the spouse, my foul made me like the chariots of Aminadab. Can thou not seal this in thy experience, believer, that fometimes when thou hast gone to duty in a very heartless and lifeless condition, perhaps beginning to raze foundations, and to say with Zion, the Lord hath forsaken, and my God hath forgotten, a gale from heaven has in a manner surprized thee, and let thee upon the high places of Jacob, and made thee to cry with the spouse, It is the voice of my beloved ! behold! he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills : His anger endures but for a moment, in his favour is life. Weeping may endure for a right, but joy cometh in the morning. 3. These breathings and influences of the Spirit are sometimes very piercing and penetrating. The cold nipping north-wind, ye know, goes to the very quick. The sword of the spirit pierces to the dividing asunder of foul and spirit, of joints and marrow,
and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Wind, you know, is of a very seeking, pe. netrating nature; it feeks thro' the closest chamo bers: So the Spirit, which is the candle of the Lord, searcheth the lower parts of the belly; he makes a discovery of these lusts and idols that skulk in the secret chambers of the heart. 4. The breathings of this wind are very powerful, strong and efficacia ous; who can oppose the breathings of the wind Some winds have such a mighty force with them, that they bear down, overturn and overthrow every thing that stands in their way; fo the Spirit of the Lord sometimes, especially at first conversion, breaks in upon the soul like the rushing of a mighty wind, as he did upon the apostles, break ing down the strong holds of iniquity, casting to the ground every high thought and towering imagination of the foul, that exalteth itself against Christ, with a powerful and triumphant efficacy : He masters the darkness of the mind, the contumacy and rebellion of the will, and the carnality of the affections, the enmity of the heart against God, and all the spiritual wickednesses that are in the high places of the soul are made to fall down at his fe as Dagon before the ark of the Lord. 5. Although he acts thus powerfully and irresistably, yet it is with an overcoming sweetness, so as there is not the least violence offered unto any of the natural faculties of the soul; for whenever the spirit comes with his faving influences, he sweetly overcomes the darkness of the mind; the finner becomes a voluntier, and content to lift himself a soldier under Christ's banner, Psal. cx. 3. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power. No sooner does Christ by his Spirit lay to the Soul, Follow me, but
immediately they arise and follow bim. Behold we come unto tbee, for thou art the Lord our God. Then, 6. There is something in the breathing of this wind that is incomprehensible by reason, John iii. 8. Thou bearest the found thereof, but thou cannot tell whence it cometh, or whither it goes, says Christ, so is every one that is born of the Spirit. There is something in the operation of the Eternal Spirit, and his influences, beyond the reach, not only of natural, but of sanctified reason. Who can tell how the bones are formed in the womb of her that is with child; so far less can we tell, how the Spirit forms the babe of grace in the heart; how he preserves, maintains and cherishes the smoaking flax that is not quite extinguished. We may in this case apply the words of the Psalmist in another case, and say, Thy way is in the sea, thy path in the deep waters, and tby footsteps are not known; and that of the apostle, How unsearchable are bis judgments, and his ways past finding out ! 7. These influences of the Spirit are sometimes felt before they are seen, as you know a man will feel the wind, and hear it, when he cannot see it: So it is with the Lord's people many times, on whom the Spirit breathes; they feel his actings, they are sensible that he has been dealing with them; and all that they can say about it is, with the man that was born blind, One thing I know, that whereas I was blind, yet now I see : The kingdom of heaven comes not with observation.
The fourth thing proposed, was to speak a little to the necessity of these breathings. And here I shall thew, (1.) That they are necessary. (2.) To what things they are necessary. (1.) That they are necessary, will appear, 1. From
the express declaration of Christ, John xv. 5. Withe out me ye can do nothing ; that is, without the aid and influences of my Spirit: He doth not say, without me ye cannot do many things, or great things, but without me ye can do nothing. 2. It is evident from the express acknowledgment of the saints of God upon this head, 2 Cor. iii. 5. We are not (says the apostle) sufficient of our felves to think any thing of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God. It is he that must work all our works in us and for us. 3. It is plain from the earnest prayers of the faints for the breathings of this wind, Cant. iv. 16. Awake O north wind, come thou fouth, and blow upon my garden. Pfal. lxxxv. 6. Wilt thou not revive us again, that thy people may rejoice in thee. They are promised in the covenant, and therefore necessary, Ifai. xliv. 3. I will pour waters on the thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, &c. Ezek. xxxvi. 27. I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my flatutes. Now, there is not a mercy promised in the covenant that can be wanting. .
But, secondly, To what are these breathings necessary? I answer, they are necessary, 1. To the quickening of the elect of God, when they are stark dead in trespasses and' sins. Can ever the dry bones live, unless this omnipotent wind blow upon them? It is strange to hear some men that profess Christi. anity, talking of the power of their own wills to quicken and convert themselves; they may as well say, that a dead man may take his grave in his two arms, and lay death by him, and walk. No man, says Christ, can come unto me, except the Father who bath sent me, draw him. Oh, what a dead weight is the finner, that a whole Trinity must draw; for
both Father and Son draws the finner by the breathings of the Holy Ghost. 2. These influences are necessary for the suitable discharge of every duty of religion. You cannot read, you cannot hear, you cannot pray or praise, you cannot communicate to any advantage, unless the wind of the Holy Ghost blow upon you ; it is the Lord that must enlarge our steps under us, and make our feet like hinds feet in the ways of the Lord. 3. They are necefsary for accomplishing our spiritual warfare against sin, Satan, and the world : We will never be able to combat with our spiritual enemies, if he do not help us; it is he only that must teach our hands to war, and our fingers to fight, so as bows of steel may be broken in pieces by us. Without the Spirit we will fall before every temptation, like Peter, curse and swear that we never knew him. 4. They are necessary to the exercise of grace already implanted in the soul. As we cannot work grace in our hearts, fo neither can we exercise it .without the renewed influences of the Holy Ghost, Cant. iv. 16. When this wind blows, then, and never till then, do the Spices flow out. But I shall not stand on this; the Spirit's influences are necessary to all the uses mentioned upon the second head, for conviction, illumination, renovation, consolation, enlargement, mortification of sin, and for assurance of our adoption.
The fifth thing that I proposed upon this head, was, to give you some of the seasons of these influences of the Spirit; for the wind, you know, has its seasons and times of blowing and breathing. I shall only name a few of them to you.
1. The Spirit's reviving influences, they blow very ordinarily in a day of conversion ; this, as you were hearing, is a season when this wind breathes Vol. II.